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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Braided Challah Bread

While Paula sent in the French Toast recipe she mentioned Challah which I commented on. So Paula now sent in a recipe for braided Challah. (Picture is courtesy of Paula.) She writes:

There is no better aroma than the smell of fresh, homemade bread baking...

Challah - Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Challah Bread - Makes 2 large braids

Ingredients For Challah:
  1. 4 Jumbo Eggs
  2. 1 Cup Canola Oil
  3. 1/2 Cup Sugar
  4. 1/4 cup Butter (softened to room temperature)
  5. 2 Teaspoons salt
  6. 1 Pinch saffron (optional)
  7. 1 Cup water (warm)
  8. 5 1/2 Cups flour, blend (1/2 all-purpose, 1/2 hard wheat, 4 1/2 white)
  9. 2 envelopes dry yeast
Ingredients for Egg Wash for top Of Challah:
  1. 1 egg
  2. 1 teaspoon water
  3. 2 tablespoons sesame or poppy seeds
Directions:
  1. Lightly grease large bowl and baking sheet; set aside.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl and beat until thoroughly blended.
  3. Dissolve saffron in water or milk and add to mixing bowl.
  4. Beat in 2 1/4 cups flour and yeast.
  5. Continue beating 2 minutes, then add additional 2 1/4 cups flour or enough to make soft dough, blending thoroughly.
  6. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat entire surface.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and hot, damp towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in volume.
  9. Punch down and let rise again until doubled.
  10. Beat egg with water.
  11. Place dough on lightly floured board and divide in half, then divide each half into 3 equal pieces.
  12. Roll each into 12-inch rope.
  13. Lay 3 ropes parallel and begin braiding in the middle, working out to each end (make braids very loose).
  14. Pinch ends together securely.
  15. Repeat with remaining ropes.
  16. Place loaves on baking sheet, brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds.
  17. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.
  18. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown.

This is not only a baking process but demands a certain dexterity with the dough. Thus four in difficulty. Just as an aside, Challah is not called Challah Bread but just plain "Challah". This is one of the ways of making it. As I mentioned in the comments of French Toast Challah has many different looks. For instance on Rosh HaShanah (New Year) and the Eve of Yom Kippur (before the fast) we traditionally eat round Challot to symbolize the circle and completeness of life.

And I want to add something else, to show the beauty of the Internet and the way it brings people together. Paula is Boston Irish Catholic. It goes to show that people from all races, creeds and religions, no matter who they are or where they are can live together in peace and as friends with mutual respect for the traditions and customs of laws of each. This too, is the beauty of cooking and creation of food and our homes.

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